What does Marx say about the humanity of the ultra wealthy? I recall from a lecture handout that he says they are alienated, not from labour, but each other. How does this reflect on the species being, according to Marx? In my dealings (cough) with them, they seem to be extremely self involved, lack empathy, and do not necessarily acknowledge that they or anyone else have anything like a universal human essence or state. They seem incapable of love and morality, for that reason, though perhaps I am just jaded and bitter. Probably the latter, as I can seem unduly mean at times.

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    There are inhuman rich and human(e). Likewise with the poor. Any experience, being rich or poor are just two, can leave a person damaged or illuminated. Thats why religious teachers such as Jesus Christ exhort us to 'be as babes'
    – Rushi
    Commented Jan 8 at 8:10
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    that's a good, clear and human way of putting it @Rushi but does marx agree?
    – user70707
    Commented Jan 8 at 8:11
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    No idea. I was only commenting on your personal ending
    – Rushi
    Commented Jan 8 at 8:13
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    fair. maybe best just to put it down to incompatible ppl, rather than misunderstandings or class hatred @Rushi cheers!
    – user70707
    Commented Jan 8 at 8:15
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    Was Marx poor? Could you please unpack what "universal human essence or state" entails? "They seem incapable of love and morality" towards you or their children? Isn't your "dealings (cough) with them" transactional not familial, if so, and they fulfilled their pecuniary obligations to you as per your agreement, then why expect more than you merit?
    – Ptah-hotep
    Commented Jan 12 at 19:17

3 Answers 3


It's been a while since I read Marx, but I'm fairly certain that he describes them to be amoral rather than immoral: The capitalist is forced to grow, forced to play the game, whether they like it or not. If the capitalist pays their workers a better wage, some competitor will step in and undercut the business, so they must be ruthless. Now, I'm sure Marx also had some choice words for the rich a-holes you're describing, but I think generally he was more of a "hate the game, not the players"-kinda guy.

As for your personal experience, I think it's worth realizing that money doesn't necesarily turn people into psychopaths; rather, there is evidence for the other way around; our economic system rewards those who were already psychopaths to begin with.

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    Many people misremember the proverb as "money is the root of all evil", but it's actually "the love of money". That accords with your second paragraph.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 8 at 16:50
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    Note: money not usually turning people into psychopaths doesn't imply that money can't turn people into psychopaths. People can turn into psychopaths and then get money because of it (arguably the same thing). Commented Jan 8 at 18:40

Dialectical Materialism discovered the natural law that all classes under capitalism are determined more by their material position in the production process rather than on moral, individual freedom to act. For Marx, there are no humans but social classes that necessarily act according to its class interests.

In The German Ideology Marx writes:

it is quite immaterial what consciousness starts to do on its own: out of all such muck we get only the one inference that these three moments, the forces of production, the state of society, and consciousness, can and must come into contradiction with one another, because the division of labour implies the possibility, nay the fact that intellectual and material activity – enjoyment and labour, production and consumption – devolve on different individuals, and that the only possibility of their not coming into contradiction lies in the negation in its turn of the division of labour. (Part I: A. Materialism and Idealism, History: Fundamental Conditions) https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01a.htm#a3

Capital as a relation (and therefore capitalists in general) has one particular goal: to valorize itself, specifically to extract surplus value. When someone invests Capital it does so in order to get a surplus. The surplus obtained needs to be invested again because idle capital looses its value, therefore creating an infinite cycle where capital and surplus get invested agiain indefinitely. This is the natural movement of capital and all capitalists are bound to it no matter any moral or humanity they individually have.

Here is a little explanation of the contradiction between Capital and Labor:

Capital is in an eternal contradiction with Labor: In order to maximize surplus the costs of production are always getting lowered wherever its possible. This happens primarily in the Labor costs. So with this relationship between Capital and Labor it arises the following fact: Capitalists struggle to lower Labor costs as much as possible, but since Labor needs money to survive and come to work the next day a contradiction emerges in which the salary is lowered below the survival need and workers cannot buy the products they produce resulting in an economic recession. (This is my explanation but you can read it directly from Marx on The German Ideology, I just lost the page.

This contradiction specifically as embodied between Capital and Labor creates class struggle and the reason the Capitalists can only act in the interest of capital and not on "human" morals.


History is the history of class struggle

So a bourgeois person, as a bourgeois person, is either irrelevant or an anti progressive force ruining the working class. This does not mean that they cannot be nice to their children or their servants, and I see little reason to supply them a separate ethical standard to the rest of us.

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